LightPath Inks Infrared Optics Tech Transfer Agreement with Naval Research Lab

LightPath Technologies has secured exclusive license for the U.S. Naval Research Labs (NRL) infrared patent portfolio. The optical usage license will enable the Orlando, Fla.-based engineered solutions provider and optical and infrared components developer to manufacture products using the portfolio developed and owned by the U.S. Navy’s NRL.

The agreement provides LightPath with access to unique chalcogenide glass compositions to develop more comprehensive optical systems targeting markets, including the IR imaging market, which is expected to grow from $5.8 billion last year to $8.3 billion by 2025, per MarketsandMarkets Research, as well as the multispectral imaging market, which is expected to grow from $10.9 billion in 2020 to $17.6 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research.

LightPath President and CEO Sam Rubin said that the company gains the ability to access several multibillion dollar markets as a partner for commercial development of engineered solutions for Department of Defensevagencies, Defense Industrial Base, prime contractors, and other imaging businesses.

LightPath develops and manufactures BD6 (black diamond) chalcogenide glass material, which is used in IR systems. LightPath’s BD6 glass for IR applications is made from chalcogenide materials as opposed to germanium and other crystal materials.

Over the last few years, we have been seeing a trend of moving away from using germanium crystals as the main material in infrared systems, into using synthetic chalcogenide glass, such as our BD6 infrared glass,” Rubin said. “However, as opposed to visible optics systems that can use dozens of types of glasses in their designs, infrared optical systems are limited only to a small number of materials that are suitable for that wavelength range, severely limiting the potential capabilities of those systems. As a result, infrared optical systems tend to be larger in size and weight then visible systems, to higher cost, which limits the number of applications and industries that have been adopting infrared imaging.

Bringing to market these nine types of materials provides designers with materials that have a range of different optical properties such as glass density, transition temperature, spectral performance, and expansion characteristics that are critical for performance and ideally are made from moldable, lower-cost material.

With multiple different glass types to use in a system design, infrared optical systems will become more affordable in size, weight, and cost, and will be able to tap into new markets and applications. In addition to providing optical system designers more flexibility and choices of materials, this will also allow us to design and deliver superior optical systems, compared to what is currently considered the state of the art in infrared imaging.”

Rubin said the company plans to manufacture these products at LightPath’s headquarters. The company makes over 440 pounds of chalgodenide glass every week and may increase its volumetric capacity to meet demand within six months, he said.